Even though violent crime rates continue to fall across the country, many cities remain dangerous. In 2013, the most recent year complete FBI data is available, there were 368 violent crimes committed per 100,000 people nationally. However, the cities on this list are much more dangerous, with violent crime rates exceeding 1,300 per 100,000 people.
Many of the cities on the list suffer from exceedingly high murder rates, with 8 of the 10 cities ranking among the 25 highest murder rates in the country. Not only are these cities plagued with violent crime, they also tend to exceed the national rate for property crimes and other forms of criminal activity. In short, if you’re looking for a place to feel safe, you can either try and live in one of the following 10 safest cities in America or, at the very least, try to avoid the following 10 most dangerous cities in the U.S.
This list of the most dangerous cities in America uses official FBI crime statistics for cities with a population of 100,000 or more residents. Violent crime, median household income and poverty rates were used to determine the most dangerous cities in the United States.
The 10 Most Dangerous Cities In America
10. Birmingham, Alabama
Violent crime rate: 1,345 per 100,000 residents
Median Income: $31,152
Birmingham has the tenth highest violent crime rate in the country with 1,345 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 people in the city. Aggravated assaults accounted for more than half of all the city’s violent crimes. Birmingham had the 25th most murders in the country in 2013 with 63 being reported. The median wage in Birmingham is nearly $20,000 below the national average and the city’s poverty rate of 30.7% is nearly double the national average. Low wages, limited education, a robust drug trade and crippling poverty all play major roles in the city’s high crime rate. There is good news though. The 2013 violent crime rate was down significantly from the previous year’s rate of more than 1,500 per 100,000 people.
9. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Violent crime rate: 1,364 per 100,000 residents
Median Income: $43,193
While violent crime has been down nationally, it has been on the rise in Milwaukee. In 2010, there were just 1,045 violent crimes reported per 100,000 people, but by 2013, the number had climbed to nearly 1,400. The city had the 15th most murders in the country with 104 being reported. The median income in Milwaukee is nearly $10,000 less than the national average and the 29% poverty rate is nearly double the national average. Once again, poverty, low wages and a lack of education seem to be a major reason for the city’s high rate of violent crimes.
8. Rockford, Illinois
Violent crime rate: 1,375 per 100,000 residents
Median Income: $35,467
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to the violent crime rate in Rockford. The city has the lowest murder total of any city on this list with just 19 in 2013. While the murder rate was just 13 per 100,000 people, it was still well above the national average of 4.5 per 100,000. Aggravated assaults are a major issue in the city as it was one of only three cities to exceed 1,000 per 100,000 people. Arson proved to be another problem for the city with 71 reported arsons per 100,000 people. The arson rate was more than all but 4 cities nationally. With wages that are nearly $20,000 below the national median and a 23.2% poverty rate, it’s likely that economic factors contribute to the city’s high crime rate.
7. Baltimore, Maryland
Violent crime rate: 1,401 per 100,000 residents
Median Income: $41,385
Baltimore saw more than 500 fewer violent crimes in 2013 than it did in 2012, but it remains one of America’s most dangerous cities. Only five cities had more people murdered than the 233 in Baltimore during 2013. The murder rate of 37 per 100,000 was more than all but 4 cities and more than 8 times the national average. Robberies also occurred at nearly 6 times the national average. Once again, relatively low wages, a lack of education, and a poverty rate of more than 23% likely play a role in the city’s excessive crime rate.
6. Little Rock, Arkansas
Violent crime rate: 1,407 per 100,000 residents
Median Income: $44,896
There’s nothing little about Little Rock’s crime problem. It had one of the highest violent crime rates in the country and it has some of the highest property crime rates in the nation. In addition to more than 1,400 violent crimes for every 100,000 people, property crimes were committed at a rate of more than 7,800 incidents per 100,000 people. Thirty-five people were murdered in Little Rock in 2013 for a rate of 17.7 murders per 100,000, nearly 4 times the national average. While the median wage in Little Rock is roughly $7,000 below the national median, the poverty rate is only slightly higher than the national average. Little Rock’s biggest problem seems to be prison overcrowding that is preventing repeat offenders from serving their full sentences and being released into the community to re-offend.
5. Cleveland, Ohio
Violent crime rate: 1,478 per 100,000 residents
Median Income: $26,217
Only about 75% of Cleveland adults have completed high school and nearly 37% of the city lives in poverty. Cleveland has the third highest poverty rate in the nation. Add in the fact that only 16.5% of residents have at least a bachelor’s degree and it’s no surprise that Cleveland finds itself near the top of this list. Cleveland had the second highest robbery rate in the nation with 897 incidents per 100,000 people and burglary rates were even worse with more than 2,100 per 100,000. Fifty-five murders were reported in Cleveland, placing it in the top 30 cities nationally for total murders and at a murder rate of more than 3 times the national average.
4. St. Louis, Missouri
Violent crime rate: 1,594 per 100,000 residents
Median Income: $34,582
Even though the city had nearly 1,600 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, it was an improvement over previous years. In 2010, the violent crime rate was as high as 1,747 per 100,000 people. St. Louis has one of the worst murder problems in the country with 120 being reported in 2013. That’s a rate of nearly 38 murders per 100,000 and more than 8 times the national average. Yet again, we see a city whose crime rates are likely influenced by wages well below the national median and a poverty rate of more than 26%.
3. Memphis, Tennessee
Violent crime rate: 1,656 per 100,000 residents
Median Income: $36,912
Any way you slice it, Memphis is a violent place. The city had more than 1,600 violent crimes per 100,000 residents and 124 people were murdered in 2013. If you were lucky enough to not know a murder victim, there’s a good chance you probably know someone who was assaulted. The more than 7,200 aggravated assaults reported in 2013 played a large role in the city’s high violent crime rate. It was also one of the largest numbers of aggravated assaults of any city in the country. Property crimes and arson are also well above the national averages. As with nearly every other city on the list, Memphis suffers from depressed wages and high poverty rates. Nearly 28% of Memphis residents live in poverty, one of the highest rates in the country.
2. Oakland, California
Violent crime rate: 1,977 per 100,000 residents
Median Income: $52,583
It’s no surprise to see Oakland near the top of this list. The city has seemingly always struggled with high violent crime rates. Ninety people were murdered in Oakland in 2013 and robberies occurred at a rate of more than 1,200 per 100,000 people. You were more likely to be robbed in Oakland than in any other large American city in 2013. Property crime also occurred at more than twice the national rate. While Oakland’s median income is right at the national average, it still has nearly a 20% poverty rate.
1. Detroit, Michigan
Violent crime rate: 2,072 per 100,000 residents
Median Income: $26,325
In 2013, Detroit was home to more total murders than all but two other cities in the countries with 316 reported homicides. That puts the 2013 murder rate for the city at an astounding 10 times the national average. Detroit and the surrounding area have been near the top of the most dangerous cities list for as long as most people can remember. 2013 was actually an improvement from 2012 when violent crimes were committed at a rate of 2,123 incidents per 100,000 people. Much like other cities on the list, many Detroit residents suffer from low wages and poverty. The city actually leads the nation in poverty rate with more than 40% of Detroiters living in poverty. With nearly half of the city’s residents living in poverty, it’s not hard to tell why Detroit once again tops the list of most dangerous cities in the United States.
Remember, safety starts with good information! Even if you don’t live in one of these 10 most dangerous cities in America, there’s no guarantee that your neighbor is who they say they are. Think about it… If anyone were going to victimize you, your neighbor would be the perfect person to launch an attack. They know when you’re at work or on vacation, they know all your family members, and they can easily access all your mail if they wanted to. Get piece of mind by doing a background check on your neighbors. Doing so doesn’t mean that you are overly paranoid or too cynical.